Of Bird and Cage is centered around Gitta, a young woman brought up in an unhappy home.
Early on, as a child, you have a chance to try and save your mother from your abusive father, before moving on to the present day where you’re a drug addict looking for your next fix in a seedy dive bar.
But if you like rock music, Of Bird and Cage has a fair number of tracks with one or two still lingering in the mind (for positive reasons) over 24 hours after finishing the game, and it helps that the beat of the music is used to punctuate many moments within.
On the plus side, this is a very emotional game, and similar in a puzzle-solving capacity like Before Your Eyes, especially more so given that my mother passed away early this year, and the first thing you see – in a scene which takes you back to 20 years earlier in your life – is yourself as a child, in your bedroom, sat in your mother’s company, and the words appear: “Mommy…. I love her…”
So, already I started to have the feels, but while I did battle through this game, there are many issues which need addressing:
- Firstly, the controls are quite often a royal pain when it comes to movement. It was bad when, during the Broken level (apt name), I got stuck just simply opening a door, which was frustrating beyond belief, as I got stuck in the alcove before entering, and I couldn’t even get out the way I came in. I had to quit back to the menu.
- At other times – and by design – when opening doors and drawers, you have to press a combination of keys and rotate the right thumbstick. It’s not at all conducive to do this. Why not just press a button to simply open the damn thing?! Every other game manages it.
- In another level, there’s a scene when you’re walking along a road and have to catch falling bottles of water so you can put out a fire. Can I grab hold of them? I’ve seen it done, but for me? NO! Not for quite some time until I managed it by chance! Gah!
- QTE button-mashing: This annoyance also shows up, and to add insult to injury, you only get a short amount of time to attempt certain actions, or even escaping the area, before it takes over and furthers the plot with or without your input.
- I’m not adverse to logic problem solving like Before Your Eyes, Forgotten Fields and Maquette, but this wasn’t as good as it should be. I don’t mind games that make me do a bit of thinking and aren’t too difficult, whilst also not being too easy, but please don’t just leave me completely baffled and have to seek out a walkthrough, like with the warehouse level (Broken), as I was fannying around in the dark (literally), getting nowhere for ages.
- Oh, and if you set a level in the dark, please provide us with a torch.
- Oh (again), at the end of this level, it seems after I’ve completed my last task, I just have to wait for the song to end. Unlike most of them, this particular level was an absolute ballache to complete, and games shouldn’t be like that.
- The graphics in Of Bird And Cage are fairly so-so, like something from around 10-15 years ago.
- Also, while this is a game with a story-based branching narrative, I’m not sure quite how much change the chouces make, since you end up getting to the same end-game of a level, eg. escaping from boyfriend’s apartment and other bad situations. Similarly, I saw a walkthrough where a later level was shown with two particular characters turning up at the start. In my situation, for reasons you’ll see in the gameplay (so, no spoilers), there was just me present. I could still complete the level, though. And even then, the story chops and changes, and doesn’t make too much sense.
So, I liked the emotional aspect of the story that was presented to us, but in terms of gameplay testing, it just feels like Quality Control were absent for the day.
Of Bird and Cage is out now on PC/Steam.
- Developer: Capricia Productions
- Publisher: All in! Games
- Players: single-player
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.